Friday, December 12, 2008

Interview with Marvin Wilson on Community Fridays

Welcome to Community Fridays!

During Community Fridays, I interview authors, editors, publishers, and pretty much anyone else who I can get my hands on from the writing and publishing community. Hope you enjoy, and feel free to suggest new participants. Check out current and past interviews here. Only have a minute? Click here for interviews at a glance.

Our guest for today is Marvin Wilson, avid blogger and author of Owen Fiddler.

It can take a lot of strength and a lot of faith to become a published author. How has spirituality helped you in your writing career?

With me, Emma, spirituality comes first. Here’s a quote from Owen Fiddler that sheds light on my spiritual life and worldviews. It’s where Kris, the savior figure in the book, says to the near-dead and in-a-coma Owen while a spirit-being in the never-world, “Understand, Owen - you are not a human being having a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being that has been having a human experience.”

God is everything. God is All. All is One. If I am to be a successful published author it is because of the One God. Destiny. God told me to start writing, back when I was recovering from a serious narcotics addiction that ruined me, took away everything I had, cast my family and loved ones into a horrid frenzy of despair and anxiety and nearly killed me. It was my way of giving thanks, my way of turning a horrible mistake into something useful and helpful to others. So I am undaunted in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds at mounting a golden years’ career as an author, coming as I have from absolute obscurity. It is supposed to happen. It will happen. No doubts, no worries. It’s a god thang. Gotta do it.

You've got a great "do unto others as you would have them do to you" mentality. This has helped you to establish a community (actually more like a family) around your writings and your blog. How do you sustain this attitude, especially in the face of all the difficulties and troubles in the world (many of which you write about on a daily basis)?

Difficulties are the way of the world, the way of life here on this plane of existence. Facing challenges, growing and learning from difficult experiences is what we do. I’m no different than any other sentient being. So I just talk and write about my difficulties as if they were normal to every one of my readers. And they are. I have arthritis. I have financial challenges. I have a mother that worries herself to an earlier than necessary death over her family and its problems. I have children and grandchildren that stress me all the time with their normal immature dubious early life decisions. I have a brother that’s in jail. He made some awful bad decisions long ago that just caught up with him. But hey – sound familiar anyone? It’s called life. I just write openly and honestly about my life, and I think people relate to that and appreciate the fact that I am transparent about my issues. Makes them comfortable with me and willing to interact with me. My readership is part of my family and in this family we share. And care.

Christmas is a holiday of giving. How does giving feature in your life? In what ways does being a writer and having a popular blog help you contribute to the community?

On a personal “day in the life of Marvin” level, I give with my time and money. Well, I don’t have a lot of money, but I give what I can, to my church and to random people I see in need. A five spot given to a single mom standing behind me at the grocery store checkout line that is stressing over what items she has to put back because she can’t afford all the food her hungry little ones need is the best five dollars I could ever spend. Bar none. And I spend my time and use my talents volunteering for outreach programs that my church does. This week I’ve been using my carpentry skills, outfitting an outbuilding in the back of the church with shelving for the free food pantry we are launching. I ain’t thirty anymore, but I still know how to swing a hammer. And I come home tired, sore, and feeling good. I just spent the afternoon making the world a better place for some folks.

As far as the writing, the books and the blog? That delves into global community. I write books and blog about spiritual matters. Stuff that is good for the soul. I can’t be in every third world country doling out food or bandaging bullet wounds, I can’t be in every city, neighborhood and block in this country or others to help where I can physically. But I can write. I can publish. I can market. I can blog. I can network. I can spread the word, spread the Love of Christ through the giving of my time and talents at the keyboard and on the internet. The world-wide web is a wonderful tool. I use it in the Christmas spirit, the spirit of giving. God gave me the gift of expression and communication through the written word. I will use it to glorify God and create peace and harmony amongst all humankind as long as I can draw the next breath and sit upright at the computer desk.

Tell us a little about your book, Owen Fiddler. What's it about? How do spirituality and the Christmas Spirit feature in the story? Did you encounter any major roadblocks in the journey to publishing Owen Fiddler, and if so, how did you overcome them?

Well, to me the true spirit of Christmas is the spirit of giving, the spreading of the love of Christ. I pains me to no end to witness the way the holiday over the last few decades has sunk to the depths of such a consumer consumption-driven materialistic event. It’s all about what am I getting and how much - rather than how much can I give. But that’s another soap-box I’ll probably step up on and blog about near or on December 25th.

As for Owen Fiddler, he is the ultimate “the world owes me” kind of guy. He likes to dance, but never pays the fiddler. Hence his name. He racks up a huge karmic debt with his selfish ways over his lifetime and in his middle ages the tab comes due, wreaking havoc on him and the lives of those around him. But in the end, the enlightened Owen Fiddler becomes the embodiment of the true spirit of Christmas. It’s not a Scrooge remake, but it does have some of the elements that that marvelous age-old fable has.

I didn’t have lot of difficulties in the quest for publishing. It took a lot longer than I wanted to find a pub house to take it on, but that’s par for the course when you are still a relatively unknown author. Lack of patience, tenacity, and perseverance will kill an aspiring author dead, as I’m sure you well know. Ironically, all the “Christian” pub houses rejected it because there are some swear words in it and a couple sex scenes. I was like, whatever – I’m a truthful, real-life, tell it like it is kind of writer. Owen is a self-serving, foul-mouthed whoremonger most of his adult life. How could I write him up as a golly gee Mr. Nice Guy? Just as ironically, most of the secular pub houses eschewed it because it was “too religious!” LOL. Go figure. But eventually the manuscript got in front of Arline Chase from Cambridge Books, and she and her board of directors voted to give the book a shot. They will also be publishing the sequel and the series.

You're currently taking Owen Fiddler on a blog book tour. Where did you go yesterday? Where will you be tomorrow? Can we have a full schedule of your tour?

Sure! Thanks for asking. Yesterday we had a great time at the Straight From Hel Blog. Helen Ginger posted her review of the book and I contributed an article on what it’s like for a novice author when you first run into an exacting and brutally candid editor. Painful and necessary to the gainful experience. Tomorrow we shoot over to the Pretty, Prosperous and Powerful Blog, where host Lacresha Hayes and I will discuss some of the more spiritual messages within the book. For a complete line-up of the tour, the dates, blog url’s post formats, and even juicy prizes and giveaways, check out the Owen Fiddler Blog Book Tour 2009 Schedule.

You have your own unique brand of spirituality, a combination of various teachings and faiths. How does this affect your celebration of 'traditional' holidays, such as Christmas? Any special traditions you'd like to share to get us in the Christmas spirit?

Well I am first and foremost a Christian. Certainly my Zen training and Taoist studies have an influence on the way I go about my spiritual practice. I still do sitting Zen meditation to clear my mind of the incessant internal dialog, allowing me to get here and now and be able to hear the voice of God clearly. And walks in the woods, observing and communing with nature is when I feel closest to God, one with everything. But I also pray, like any “normal” Christian. Most traditional Christians think I’m kind of weird, that I don’t really “get it,” but I’m comfortable with my brand of Christianity. I consider myself a non-religious, dogma free spiritualist Christian. Ever the Maverick, that’s me. I not only read the Bible, I read early Christian texts, like the Gnostic Gospels and the Dead Sea Scrolls, and some of the books that were not included in the accepted Bible we have today like the Gospel According to Thomas, the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Judas. Why not?

For two or three hundred years A.D., early Christians read those texts and fashioned their spiritual practice after those teachings. I also read scriptures of other religions. The Tao Te Ching, The Dhammaphada, the Upanishads, the Qua’ran, all those and more. I think too many Christians are fearful of reading anything for spiritual direction other than the Bible. Afraid of exposing themselves to the writings of other spiritual paths – as if they might discover some amazing new truths in them and find out they were wrong for following Christianity. That’s crazy. The fact that all the major world religions have a great deal of overlap in their teachings is to me an endorsement of my faith. If there were none, if Christ’s teachings were so far removed from the teachings of all the other great avatars that have taught humanity over the millennium I would have to question whether or not Christianity was the best path for me.

As for holidays, I celebrate everything. If you’re a Buddhist and want to invite me to a Buddha’s Birthday Party, I’ll come. With bells on and incense lit. Jewish? Got a Hanukkah celebration happening? Invite me. I’ll join in on the fun, eat your kosher delicacies and drink your kosher wine. Heck, I’d celebrate Tuesdays every week if someone wanted to throw a party and have a bunch of people come over for some eats, drinks and good clean fun. We make too much out of arbitrary dates as if they have some real cosmic and sacred significance. The holiest of holy days is always today. The only time is now. Be one with God right now, in each and every moment, and your entire stay here on this earth will be one continuous holiday celebration.

Lastly, because this feature is about establishing bonds within the writing and publishing industries, can you name one author, editor, publisher etc. who's doing great things right now, and why?

First person to pop up in my mind when I read that question was Travis Thrasher. I just got introduced to this author by winning his latest book, Isolation, in a blog tour giveaway promotion. Great book. Thrasher is a Christian that, like myself, chooses to write outside of the traditional “Christian Book” genre. I relate to him a lot because he realizes that he reaches a much broader audience and readership with cross-over genre writing. His Christian messages and worldviews come through loud and clear, just because of who he is, but the reader does not feel “preached to” at all, or get that uncomfortable feeling that he or she is being admonished to convert to the faith of the author. Thrasher is a Stephen King disciple in terms of his writing style, and a darn good one. Isolation is one of the best suspense thrillers I’ve ever read and I now want to read all his books. We’ve started to e-communicate and I hope at some point in the future to do some cross-promotional stuff with him.

Hey Emma, thanks so much for having me on your wonderful blog today. Answering your queries put me to task and made me think and delve quite a bit, and that’s a good thing. And I want to thank all our readers today for reading my (admittedly long-winded) answers. LOL. Hey – I’m a writer! I can’t even introduce myself on the written page in less than 500 words.

I’ll be stopping in from time to time at your blog all day and into the early evening, so if anyone would like to discuss what I’ve written here or ask me any questions, I’ll make sure and reply in the comments section. Take care, God bless, and bye for now.

About the Author
To learn more about Marvin Wilson, check out his blog.



© Emma Larkins and Marvin Wilson
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